Toshiba's 42-inch, 120-Hz 42XV545U HDTV delivers solid image quality, finishing second overall in our performance tests, close behind the Vizio SV420XVT. Despite its high scores, however, I had a mixed reaction to this set.
Contrast in the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl test was excessive, and I didn't like the yellowish cast of the faces. As for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King sequence, though I rated it Good for brightness and contrast, its handling of dark areas, and its detail in faces and clothing were only Fair. Faces appeared a bit red, too.
This model is the only one we've tested in this category that lacks primary color adjustments--and this omission held the 42XV545U back. If you, too, find faces off-color, you won't be able to fine-tune the hues to your liking.
Nor is the 42XV545U particularly easy or versatile to use. The main on-screen menu is big and opaque, and it occupies the middle of the screen, blocking too much of the picture. The TV lacks a smaller quick menu of commonly adjusted settings like Picture Mode and Aspect Ratio.
One nice touch: Press the Mute button once, and the audio drops to a whisper; press it again, and it mutes entirely--and closed captioning comes on.
At $1600, the Toshiba 42XV545U is expensive for a 42-inch HDTV, considering that capable sets like the LG 42PG25 and the Vizio SV420XVT come in at $1200 or less. And it's hard to come up with a compelling reason to buy this model over a less expensive, more full-featured one.